Saturday, March 9, 2013

Inspiration from Unlikely Sources

Scott D. Parker

A common writerly thing we tell ourselves is that inspiration for a story can come from just about any place and at any time. You know what else can come from those same mysterious places? The desire, the push you might need to get one's butt in a chair and write.

I don't know if y'all ever experience this, but, at times, watching my current favorite TV programs (Castle, Elementary, Grimm, Body of Proof), at some point during the broadcast, two things usually happen. One, the realization that I should probably be writing. I let that one slide, typically, because we can't be a writer and/or writing all the time. Two, I get inspired to go write. I enjoy those shows for their creativity, their structure, and their characters that it can prompt me to take notes about my characters or stories or dash to the keyboard and fire out some pages of my own characters because I enjoy them coming to life as much as I enjoy watching Castle, Beckett, Holmes, or Nick Burkhardt come to life and do their thing.

That kind of inspiration is, I think, typical of all of us writers. What may not be typical is getting inspiration from as unlikely as source as a podcast about Batman. Kevin Smith has, since last year, created a podcast devoted to his love of the Dark Knight. Naming it "Fat Man on Batman," each week (more or less) is an episode devoted to one or another aspect of Batman's history. With this venture being an audio-only podcast, naturally, the only thing we have is the interview itself, the voices of Smith and his guests for that has been the way Smith talks about Batman. His guest list has run out pretty wide, even though it is probably more Batman: The Animated Series heavy.

For any Batman fan out there, I cannot recommend this show enough. It has been the weekly thing that I most look forward to. I download and put on my iPod as quickly as possible. The depth and breadth Smith and his guests take the adventures of Batman is inspiring. It will confirm things you already knew, reassess things you thought in a different way, and make the entire experience of watching and reading Batman fun again.

But that's not all. What comes across in your ears is passion. There is a passion for the material, certainly. How can you even think to have a podcast if you hated something, right? It's become something of a joke now, but many of Smith's interviewees bring the big man to tears. If it's not tears that are forming in Smith's eyes (and voice), then it's awe. All too often, the guests--who have ranged from Mark Hamill, Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, and Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS) to Kyle Higgins, Geoff Johns, and Grant Morrison (comics)--convey their thought process behind a certain episode or issue or way of thinking about Bruce Wayne and his rather odd outlet for his childhood tragedy. Each time, Smith just sits in stunned amazement, comprehending something he thought he knew and seeing it in a new way. The same for us listeners, too.

Just like the old days when you were limited by the number of comics you could put in a box and take with you on vacation and you read those same issues over and over, these podcasts are like that. I've listened to most of them twice, so enjoyable are the conversation and the topics. But each time, I am prompted, nee I'm pushed by an uncompromising force to get to my Mac or pen/paper and *create*. It is the strangest thing. You'd think that I would start writing my own Batman story or jump back to an episode or an issue and re-read. I do that, but not initially. What I end up doing is want to create my own beings and put them through the motions of their lives. I want to bring the passion for my own material that others bring to Batman. I already have the passion for my projects--why else would I be writing them?--but sometimes, this podcast is like icing on the cake. It is a wonderfully unexpected consequence to listening to theses podcasts.

Is there something you do that brings unexpected creativity to your writing?

1 comment:

David Cranmer said...

Had no clue about "Fat Man on Batman." Checking it out in a few.